Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eat your words...or wallet

I'm going to venture into Dustin's territory for a minute here...and by that, I mean- Geek Town.

This is usually not my thing at all, but I recently got into managing our finances online. And I like it! Seriously.

Before, it was not an exaggeration to say that I had NO clue whatsoever where our money is, was, or was going. I joked that Dustin could be funneling my entire salary into an off-shore account, plotting his inevitable escape to easy street. Funny 'cuz it's possible.

But that was before Mint came into my life. Are you familiar with this site? It's awesome. It's like Quicken- only pretty. (and no, I really don't know what Quicken is like. But I think it has to do with money, and I think it's uglier than mint. so there.) I set it up myself (after Dustin told me all the passwords to our banks. Ok, and told me what banks we even use. but other than that...totally by myself.) It took all of five minutes, and presto- I had complete visibility to all of our income and spending- and our net worth. (If you can call a '98 corolla and a couple of dead plants "net worth" material.) But the sweetest thing about it is that it automatically categorizes expenses, and then turns them into handy little graphs to help you (me) see where your (my) money is going!

And let me tell was eye-opening.

Now, it's no secret that we Bowden's like to eat. A lot. Often and much. And maybe we like to have a drink now and again. (now. and again.) So I knew that a good chunk of change went to keeping us..chunky. But I don't think I knew HOW chunky that chunk had become (although I'm fairly certain my pants used to be bigger!)

Here's a glimpse at our monthly breakdown. (I've cut out the actual dollar amounts, and just kept the categories for comparison.) The second line down is our mortgage. The first line is food stuff. Or food-stuffed.

Crazy stuff right? But wait...there's more! (and I don't mean dessert).
Mint can break it down a step further, and allow you to compare within a category:

How 'bout them apples? (mmmmmm...apples).

So suffice it to say, we have a bit of a problem when it comes to the pie-chart of our pie-holes. (Or in this case, the bar graph of bar/restaurants). Now, though it looks bad at first glance, you do have to keep other factors in mind: We don't have a car payment, we don't drink coffee, we only have one cell phone bill (and it doesn't even include data!), we rarely purchase big ticket items, or even see movies. So I would assume that in a lot of categories, our spending is probably relatively low compared to the national average. And- if I may toot our horn a bit- one important note is that aside from our mortgage we don't have any debt. No school loans, auto leases etc. so that does free up some (all) of our income.

Eating out is sometimes our lazy way of getting out of cooking, but sometimes it's out of necessity- picking up a quick bite between work and whatever activity we have that particular night. But most often- it's just our favorite thing to do. I love trying new restaurants, sharing a night out with friends, or having a date night with Dustin. But still- if you look at the graph, there's no denying that we are, in a way, eating ourselves out of house and home. And while I don't want to give up going out, but we should probably rein it in a bit.....I mean- November is already shaping up to be a big month....

So we set up a budget, increased our donations significantly, and aim to cut back on some of the less necessary expenses. But I can promise you one thing- though Mint makes it possible, I will not be tracking my nail polish purchases separately....Somethings are better left a mystery.


  1. Geek Town? I live in Geek Town? Whoa whoa whoa... When did this happen?

  2. I tried to use Mint last year but while it had a 75% of our accounts, it didn't connect with some of our investment stuff so I stopped using it ... but I definitely agree that it's a way cool site.

    I was surprised you didn't make some snarky comment about the inverse relationship of your eating out to your health and fitness and personal care expenditures. :)

    And no need to justify your eating out habits. You guys are DINKS. That's how you're supposed to be ... I remember those days ... sniff.